“The Dead” James Joyce final charter in the collection of stories and creates the book Dubliners, which explores issues of identity and power through language and colonialism. These issues are connected to the political turmoil of his negative Ireland. The themes of colonialism in the story are mentioned by the tale of a simple holiday party that connects with the archetypal conflicts of: male vs. female, Irish vs. British, old vs. young and success vs. failure. These forces mentioned create a world in which Gabriel Conroy is not sure of himself as Irishman or as a husband. Gabriel arrives to at the tale holiday party as a hero, his aunt’s favorite nephew. Joyce lets the reader know where Gabriel’s values lie. Gabriel appears at the doorway and answers his aunt “Here I am as right as the mail”, Aunt Kate! Go on up, I will follow said Gabriel from the dark.” (Joyce, 2007, p. 651). Gabriel ego arrives with him as he stands in the dark hallway and furthers his initial interaction with Lilly, the serving girl who is beneath him socially. As sure as Gabriel was of himself in her presence, he suggests to Lilly that she should get married because she finished school. Lilly responded harshly refusing to play the role of the feminine voice to flatter Gabriel’s ego (Joyce, 2007). There is no surprise Gabriel believes language is the key to a sense of power which left him speechless with Lilly’s statement “The men that is now is only all palaver and what they can get out of you” (Joyce, 2007, p.652) haunts him . The fact that Lilly’s words had a greater impact and carried more weight Gabriel searched for the right words to regain his position of authority.
“The Dead” is a Christmas story in Dublin where Gabriel Conroy, nephew of the hostess had to make a speech, a story based on love and loss. Gabriel’s relationship with his wife appeared respectful. Gabriel’s inability to come to terms with who he is resulted in the use of language in a meaningful way to establish himself as a man. Despite the love and arousal for his wife at the end of the evening, the story does not end with his seduction of his spouse, but with the discovery that his wife had been in love before with a man who sang under her widow and died.
At this time, “A vague terror seized Gabriel at this answer as if, at that hour when he had hoped to triumph, some impalpable and vindictive being was coming against him “(Joyce, 2007, p. 677). In the end, it is not a position of power, it is the romantic story of a queen of Ireland and Michael Fury who are heroes of “The Dead” and leave Gabriel ineffective and ridiculous at the end of this story. James Joyce really added several twist and turns to this story but I really enjoyed the transformation of a man with a huge ego become submissive and in loss of words when not in control.
Joyce, J. (2007). The Story and Its Writer: Boston, MA: St. Martin Publishers.